Documents of an Elite Viet Cong Delta Unit: The Demolition Platoon of the 514th Battalion

Part Five: Personal Letters

by David W. P. Elliott, Mai Elliott

Download eBook for Free

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 2.7 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

Translations of the personal correspondence of members of a Viet Cong demolition unit operating in the Mekong Delta. This is the last in a series representing the entire file of unit records captured by U.S. forces. (The others are RM-5848, RM-5849, RM-5850, and RM-5851.) In the period covered by the records, early 1966 to mid-May 1967, the unit was under-strength and saw little action. Much time was spent reorganizing, training, and bolstering morale. These letters to friends and relatives reveal the hopes and fears of soldiers in wartime. Although they have a self-conscious tone, perhaps because their authors feared censorship, the contents are no doubt sincere. They impart a strong sense of group solidarity and social cohesiveness. Most of them are the correspondence a young cadre, whose reaction to the death of his fiancee in an artillery shelling is reflected in several stirring poems he composed vowing to defeat the Americans and reunify the country. The letters do not evince a "scholar at war"; they are the private, simple annals of the obscure. But that may be the key to their value — in showing the enemy to be like soldiers everywhere.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation research memorandum series. The Research Memorandum was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1973 that represented working papers meant to report current results of RAND research to appropriate audiences.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.